Monthly Archives: June 2017

Choosing Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are designed to endure tougher terrain and to let the rider cruise over uneven and bumpy patches. Before you go buy your mountain bike, you need to consider what type of terrain you will be riding on. Based on the terrain, there are several types of bikes to choose from.

Mountain biking is a popular outdoor sport that combines healthy exercise with an element of fun. Most people go cycling in groups to have fun while enjoying the splendours of nature. Due to its popularity, the number of mountain biking options has gone up. You can choose the mountain bike that suits the type of biking you want to do. Before you go out and buy that bike, you need to know about the different types that are available.

Cross Country Mountain Cycles

Cross country bikes are very popular among the first-time riders. These bikes are extremely lightweight and easy to ride. The advantage of this is that the rider finds it very easy to ride over steep hills and rough terrain. Newer models of bikes such as the Scott Scale 29 have lightweight carbon frames and powerful shock dampening systems that make the bumps seem like they’re not even there. Some people even commute to work and back on their cross country bikes. Some of these bikes are full suspension while the others are hardtails like the Scott Scale 29. A point to note would be that a full suspension bike gives a greater ride quality over a rough terrain that a hardtail would.

Downhill Mountain Cycles

Downhill mountain biking has a thrill of its own. Most experienced mountain bikers prefer to ride down a hillside. Due to the nature of the terrain, downhill bikes are heavily built with powerful front and rear suspensions. These bikes also sport disc brakes. Downhill bikes are often customized to suit the rider’s requirements. Downhill bikes also come with a very strong frame that lends the bike some stability. It is advised that this kind of biking be attempted by the expert bikers with all possible protection on.

Professional Mountain Cycles

For the most skilled of riders, there are professional grade mountain bikes. These are used by riders at biking competitions. The bikes boast of the highest quality and are made from very light materials. A lot of engineering work goes in to ensuring that the bikes can endure the terrain and the demands put on it. These are strong and need the skill that professional riders possess to get the best performance out of them. Bikes like the Scott Scale 20 and Scott Spark 60 are perfect for riders who prefer lightweight bikes that can make riding rough terrains easy.

Personal Mountain Cycles

And finally, there are a huge variety of recreational mountain bikes that are not as high tech as the professional or the cross country models. These ones are primarily for recreational use and are a good bike to start with. These bikes are full suspension that boast of great riding comfort and quality. These bikes are perfect for going cycling with the whole family.

There are mountain bikes for all terrains and at varying budgets. Before you go buy your mountain bike, understand your needs and choose a bike accordingly.

Successful Mountain Bike Racing

Contrary to popular belief, mountain bike racing is not just a sport for young, adrenaline-crazed muscular macho men in leather jackets. Rather, today’s “adrenaline-crazed” bike rider is as likely to be middle aged as he is young, flabby as he is muscular, and feminine as he is macho. Mountain bike racing is an equal opportunity sport that only requires one thing from its participants-that they have fun.

Before you can enjoy this activity, however, you must learn a few basic rules of the game. Fortunately, learning these rules is almost as enjoyable as competing in the bike race.

Mountain Bike Racing is for Everyone

Unlike other sports, mountain bike racing does not discriminate against gender, age, or particular body types. Because this sport’s focus is on fun rather than competition, it is open to all to participate.

To enable fair competition, however, a number of competition levels, or categories, exist within this sport. There are categories for beginners, categories for different age groups – even a category for those weighting more than 220 pounds (the Clydesdale category.) Thus, do your research and find the category that best suits your particular needs.

But choose carefully. If you overestimate your ability, you might well end up with a bruised ego (and dust on your face) as your competitors cross the finish line way ahead of you. Conversely, if you underestimate your riding ability and choose a category that is not sufficiently challenging, you might be labeled a “sandbagger” (e.g., someone who enters a lower division race simply to increase his/her chances of winning) by your competitors.

Of course, as always, prior to embarking upon this new pursuit, however, it is wise to obtain your doctor’s approval. Mountain bike racing is loosely considered an “extreme sport” for a reason-it can be (and frequently is) quite physically taxing.

Why Choose Mountain Bike Racing?

If you are an avid bike rider (but not a racer) you may be surprised to learn that taking your beloved bike out for an occasional race will actually turn you into a better rider. Experts say that the varied, sometimes dangerous, terrain of a racing course forces the mind to focus on quick solutions for safely traversing unpredictable course. These “split-second” decisions, made with full concentration, enables a rider learn techniques faster than years of casual riding, in addition to sharpening reactions in response to sudden changes in terrain or unexpected conditions.

Tips for Choosing (and Maintaining) Your Bike

A common misconception by those new to this sport is that they have to have a “special” bike. Certainly to compete at the highest level, a bike of a certain quality is required to enable a level playing field. However, the most expensive choice is certainly not a necessity. Rather, the most important aspect of the bike is that it be sturdy and reliable.

While suspension and dual hydraulic disc brakes may be appealing, with respect to off-road racing it is crucial that the bicycle be lightweight. Towards the end of a race every extra pound will begin to feel like fifty. Additionally, excellent quality front shocks will substantially absorb the rocky terrain encountered in mountain bike racing.

Finally, as may be obvious, the essential factor in choosing the right racing bicycle is that it be suitably matched to the racing course. Cross-country mountain bikes are better suited for trails, whereas downhill mountain bikes are clearly designed for enhanced safety for downhill racing.

To ensure that you are able to address repair or maintenance issues, the following items (at minimum) should be carried by the rider: extra tire tubes, toolkit, and a puncture repair kit.

Rules of the Road

In mountain bike racing, the rules of the road depend upon the type of the race. The three most popular types of mountain bike races are cross-country (XC), hillclimb (HC) and downhill (DH).

Cross-country: This is the most common type of mountain bike race. The riders compete directly against one another while riding around a circular track of varied terrain. In instances where there are significant numbers of racers, the group is typically divided into sub-groups by age or ability levels. This is a rigorous form of racing, as riders must jockey for position and understand the mechanics and timing of passing other riders.

Hillclimb: This race pits rider against the mountain as compared to rider against rider. The riders are paced as they climb the hill, individually, a few moments apart. The winner is judged by how fast he, or she, reaches the top of the hill.

Downhill: The riders in this race are timed by the speed with which they navigate the hill. As with the hillclimb, each rider is released downhill individually. The courses in downhill racing frequently involve difficult obstacles for the riders to surmount, thus accounting for the challenge of the this type of race.

Dos and Don’ts of Mountain Bike Racing

Although becoming a skilled mountain bike racer takes training and experience, a few basic dos and don’ts should be noted:

DO:

· Practice. Practice. Practice. To become a skilled mountain bike rider, you must ride-often.

· Cross-train. Mountain bike racing takes strong leg muscles, in particular, and you will be at a disadvantage if your are not physically ready for the challenge.

· Accept the fact that you are embarking in a potentially risky activitym where injuries are not only not uncommon, but even to be expected.

· Research the course before the race. Ensure that you ‘pre-ride’ the course (or one similar)prior to the race day.

· Carry an adequate supply of water with electrolytes.

· Thoroughly inspect your bicycle and ensure that all maintenance appointments are up-to-date.

· Conserve your energy during the race by appropriately pacing yourself.

· Allow other riders to pass you – never try to block a passing attempt.

DON’T:

· Worry about the other riders with the (perhaps) flashier bicycles, gear or outfits. Their ability to buy expensive racing equipment is no indication of their skill level.

· Ride when you should walk. Almost every racecourse has small sections and obstacles that are difficult to traverse. Endeavoring to muscle your way (via the pedals) over such hurdles may seriously tax the remaining energy required to complete the race, and heighten the probability of injury.

· Arrive late. You should arrive at least an hour prior to the start of the race. This will provide sufficient time to enable a 20-minute warm up ride and listen to the pre-race briefing to ensure that there have been no last minute changes to the course.

· Consider the other racers. Doing so will simply increase anxiety levels and inhibit optimal performance. Instead, focus upon the upcoming excitement of the race.

· Don’t pass other riders, during the race, without appropriately notifying them of your intent. A simple “passing on the left” or “passing on the right” is sufficient to prevent collisions and resulting injuries.

History of Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are one of today’s most popular types of bicycles. Thanks to the exhilarating effect that each ride gives, the sport has garnered millions of enthusiasts in different parts of the globe over the years. Though when speaking of mountain bicycle history, it is usually associated with the seventies. But looking far back into the end of the 19th century, we can see the earliest examples of off road bikes, which are considered to be the mountain bicycle of their time. In August of 1896, group of Buffalo Soldiers used modified bicycles that can efficiently be ridden off road during their expedition from Missoula, Montana, to Yellowstone and back.

The reason why mountain bicycle history is often associated with the seventies is because it was the time when the pioneers of the modern mountain bike and the sport gathered to organize a bicycling event which was later known as the first downhill time trial. The historic event was held on a fire road now referred to as Repack Road in Fairfax, California in 1976. Riders would start at different time intervals, and since there were no formal downhill mountain bikes at that time, riders used bicycles known as klunkers or modified balloon-tired cruisers with gears and BMX-style handlebars.

Bicycle companies started to manufacture this type of bicycle in the eighties and over the years, have been improving bicycle technology, making off road bikes more durable and ergonomic as ever. Today, off road biking events are held regularly in different parts of the world, and have branched out into a number of categories – cross country, downhill, free ride, and a few others. To commemorate the persons and events that have helped shaped mountain bicycling as to what it is today, the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum was established in 1988 and is located in Crested Butte Colorado.

Downhill Mountain Biking Alps Events

As the holidaymaking panorama continues to take a turn towards the active – with activity and sports breaks gradually replacing the traditional fly-and-flop beach holiday – so too does the concept of mountain biking Alps courses continue to grow in popularity, both among already avid cycling enthusiasts and families or couples wanting to stay active.

But while the latter will be perfectly content with a gentle cycle through the countryside, those who take their hobby slightly more seriously will not be content to just cross the same old trails and downhill pistes. While said pistes and slopes were what made the experience of mountain biking Alps trails popular in the first place (after helping the region make a name for itself as the quintessential winter-sports location) and while there are many to explore before the area starts to become stale, ‘serious’ cyclists always wish to push themselves that extra little bit further.

All Downhill From Here

In that regard, few occasions are better to attempt to improve one’s performance – specifically in what concerns downhill – than the Megavalanche, one of the biggest events of the mountain biking year. Though not one for hobbyists or the faint of heart, this challenging downhill race will undoubtedly delight those looking for a challenge and wanting to push their personal limits.

The concept of the Megavalanche consists of a 30km-long downhill race, beginning roughly 400m above sea level. It is a gruelling and potentially dangerous event – the speeds achieved during downhill cycling can be quite considerable – but absolutely exhilarating for someone who knows how to handle themselves in this kind of course. Cycling aficionados and downhill enthusiasts owe it to themselves to try it at least once in their lives!

Preparing

One of the factors keeping the Megavalanche out of reach of the average family on an Alpine holiday is the considerable amount of preparation it requires. If the workout required to prepare for mountain biking Alps trails is already gruelling, it is not hard to imagine that the one needed to tackle this challenging race would be that much more demanding.

That is, indeed, the case, as very few downhill courses in the world can quite prepare a cyclist for what he or she will encounter in the Alps. There is a reason downhill tracks in that part of the world are famous, and the Megavalanche encapsulates that reason perfectly. As such, a cyclist who does not want to put his or herself in harm’s way needs to be extremely thorough when preparing to cycle this course.

Said preparation entails more than simply familiarizing oneself with downhill courses; it is also necessary to pick exactly the right bike, with the right accessories to allow for a successful and accident-free race. Said bikes can often set riders back a considerable amount, which further puts this event out of the reach of families simply seeking to mountain biking Alps roads or tracks together.

Enthusiastic or experienced riders, however, will not want to miss the Megavalanche, which has rightfully made a name for itself as one of the prime Alpine cycling events.

Downhill Mountain Bike Tips

Downhill biking is a real adrenalin pumping thrill packed ride which has the most addictive effect among all the mountain biking sports. The speed of descent is the real thriller which requires a sufficiently high degree of skill and practice, without which this sport can turn into a violent disaster. That is why it is essential for those who are new to this sport to exercise extra caution when participating in this kind of a venture.

The best would be to gradually advance in your skills by first practicing it on easier slops and after acquiring the necessary skills, advance to the next level.

Tip # 1

When attempting downhill biking, always wear your protective gear which will ensure your safety.

Tip # 2

Take the trouble of first checking out your track on foot and note any obstacles which you are likely to encounter in the path. This will help you in planning your ride later and nothing will come up as a surprise to you. Those who do not adhere to this often in their early riding days end up in an ambulance.

Tip # 3

It is a good idea that you forget that you have a front break at all. Even by mistake do not apply your front breaks as this would have you topple immediately as your weight will always be towards the forward end of the bike and you will be thrown off on the application of your front breaks.

Tip # 4

Practice fluttering or controlling your speed with the continuously applying and releasing your rear breaks to maintain a controlled speed of your bike. If you do not do this your speed will continue to increase with the passage of time and it will end in a disaster at the end of the trail or you are likely to lose control on the way.

Tip # 5

Select a bike which has a center of gravity at the center and near the base of the bike and full suspension as it will help you maintain your proper balance.